Twisted Love (Modern Romance #3) by Piper Lawson


1





Truth is overrated. I’ve learned that the hard way.

We think if we know someone long enough, we’ll know who they are. We can predict how they’ll act and react.

But the reality is, every person presents who they want to be. Who they think others want them to be.

“I want to fuck you in those heels,” I murmur, watching the couple laughing at the other end of the bar.

My colleague Kendall sneaks a look at them from around a fall of shiny red hair. “That’s what he’s saying?”

“It's a first date, so that’s what he’s thinking. He’s saying, ‘That’s my favorite brunch place too.’”

She laughs into her mocktail, her bright eyes dancing.

We always do happy hour after work on Fridays. It’s a chance to let go of the week, and for me, it’s a chance to thank the women who’ve come to be not only team members but friends.

My other colleague, Rena, returns from the bathroom, her stiletto heels clicking a sharp rhythm on the floor.

Her ice-blond ponytail bounces as she shifts onto the bar stool. “Daisy, when was the last time you went on a date?”

Like Kendall, she’s a few years younger than me and dating someone she met through work.

Unlike Kendall, she says everything she thinks.

I arch a brow. “Not every woman needs someone in her life.”

“Need? No,” Rena says. “Want, on the other hand…”

“Come on,” Kendall adds. “You’re thirty, and a professional badass. You have a relationship marketing company.”

“Which means I spend enough time courting clients at meet-and-greets. I’m not wasting my personal time on a guy who doesn’t want what I want.”

I shift in my seat, crossing my legs in a practiced move that ensures my black wool dress doesn’t flash something more exotic than my thigh before continuing.

“Half the men in this city will tell you on a first date they’re not threatened by a successful woman, but what they actually want is a woman who’s articulate, educated, always wants to fuck but won’t bother them with her needs or feelings. And is available to hang on his arm on short notice. God forbid she work too damn much.”

“You do work too damn much.” Rena’s red lips curve.

I shoot her a look as I down the last of my cocktail.

I’m good at helping brands figure out how to connect with their customers. It’s my superpower.

If I set aside my own desires in pursuit of making a real difference in other peoples’ lives… I don’t see anything wrong with it.

For the last decade, it’s been my dream to build something bigger than myself. To help our clients understand their customers better so we can all get more of what we need, so more people can have real relationships and genuinely understand each other.

Yes, humans need food and shelter and clothing and sex. But we go on endless dates to find the right person. Volunteer because we want to help people we’ve never met and feel good inside.

We want to understand and be understood. To love and be loved.

It shouldn’t be so hard, but it is.

“But it’s not your fault you work too much,” Rena goes on. “You’re growing a business in a man’s world. This week, that client pulled out of a two-year contract because a product line we didn’t even work on went south. Men shouldn’t pull out unless you ask them to.” Her wink ensures the innuendo doesn’t go unnoticed.

My company, Closer, does well, but doing business in Manhattan is expensive. I pay my team above-market rates—because they deserve it and because it means they can bring all of their creativity and talent to work, knowing their families will be supported.

“I have a Plan B. Richard Vane,” I say, thinking of the middle-aged real estate magnate. “He’s worth billions. He just bought a series of couples-focused resorts.”

Kendall’s lips twist in doubt. “I heard he never takes meetings.”

“He’s coming in Monday.” I think back over the summary points I prepared in advance.

“I bet she was running a lemonade empire at age four," Rena says to Kendall.

“No. My first business foray was a pageant in high school. My twin sister, Vi, entered. I did hair for her and all the other girls. Made two hundred bucks and earned the eternal gratitude of everyone entering.”

“You didn’t compete?”